Muskie spikers to learn from OFSAA trip

The Muskie senior girls’ volleyball team may have gone winless in four matches at the all-Ontarios in Dryden last week but they are banking on the experience helping next year’s squad.
“To be able to be [at OFSAA] and see how these teams play was a great experience,” said head coach Duane Roen. “At least now we know what we have to do in order to compete.”
The black-and-gold were swept in all four of their best-of-three preliminary round matches at Dryden, but they certainly weren’t blown out as two of their losses were by scores of 26-24 and 25-23.
In fact, Roen felt nerves stood in the way of their performance, not the competition.
“We had jitters at the start of every game,” he remarked. “Our biggest problem throughout the tournament was consistency. We weren’t running our plays as often as we should have.”
Heading into their final preliminary round match against Penetanguishene last Wednesday morning, the black-and-gold already knew it would be their last whether they won or lost.
As such, Roen told his players not to look at the score but instead play the best game they knew how.
As it turned out, Fort High was beaten by scores of 25-18 and 25-13 to finish last in their pool at 0-4.
They had opened action last Tuesday morning (March 7) with a 25-12, 25-20 loss to Lo-Ellen Park—the eventual bronze-medal winners.
They then lost 25-14 and 26-24 to Kingsville on Tuesday afternoon before falling 25-23 and 25-16 to Embrun that night.
“They were strong teams,” Roen said of their opponents. “The girls would get discouraged and that’s something we’ll need to work on for next season.”
Roen said his team worked hard all season to get to the point they now are at.
“You know, we’re a young team and I’ve witnessed so much improvement,” he remarked. “It’s great to work with these kids. They’re a great bunch.
“Sure, they can be a little feisty sometimes and stress me out a little bit, but 90 percent of the time they’re a good bunch,” he added. “I’m very proud of them.”
Despite this being his first year coaching senior girls’ volleyball after a long stint heading up the Muskie junior team, Roen said he felt very comfortable.
“This opportunity [to coach] came up and it was nice to be able to work with the same kids for three years,” he noted. “At the same time, it was difficult because there were a lot of changes I had to make.”
For instance, Roen decided to change the team’s entire defensive plan halfway through the season. But for him, the toughest part was getting used to the fact that not everyone was going to have the opportunity to play anymore.
He also admitted that while OFSAA was a learning experience for the team, it was one for him, as well.
“Now I know where to focus my efforts,” Roen said.
The Muskies had finished second to Dryden in NorWOSSA but advanced to the all-Ontarios because the Eagles already had an automatic berth as the host team.